Ali Will Keep This Gold Medal


Muhammad Ali will hold on to this gold medal.

Ali received a replica of the medal he won at the 1960 Rome Olympics but subsequently lost or tossed away during a meeting Tuesday with Italian Premier Massimo D'Alema.

The former heavyweight champion, who often tours the globe as an envoy for peace, came to Italy for a conference on peace talks for the east African nation of Burundi. The conference, in Sicily, ended Monday.

Italian Olympic Committee president Gianni Petrucci presented Ali with the new medal.

"It was a very sweet gesture on their part," Ali's wife, Lonnie, said, fingering the gold medal, which depicts a she-wolf and the city's founding twins Romulus and Remus. "It was an emotional moment."

Lonnie Ali serves as a spokeswoman for her husband, who suffers from Parkinson's, a degenerative nerve disease that slowed his reflexes and made it difficult for him to talk.

Ali was 18 when he won the light heavyweight Olympic title as the brash Cassius Clay.

In his autobiography, "The Greatest," Ali wrote that he tossed his gold medal into the Ohio River after a fight with a white motorcycle gang, which started when he and a friend were refused service at a Louisville restaurant.

The story may be apocryphal, and Ali later told friends he simply misplaced the medal.

Tuesday's medal was not the first replacement Ali has received. International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch gave Ali a gold medal during halftime of the men's basketball final at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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